The Accomack County Board of Supervisors met Wednesday in a business session to clarify 2022 property tax assessment requirements and policies and to discuss the tax rates that will be included in the draft budget which will be voted on Monday 11 April.
County assessor Brent Hurdle told council that the assessment level is determined by the median sales ratio. The state of Virginia allows localities to appraise real estate within a window of 90% to 110% of the county’s average property value. Hurdle said the current median sales ratio, as reflected in the previous valuation, is below the minimum at 84%. Hurdle continued that a factor in some of the higher valuations has been raising the median sales ratio to within state required limits. Hurdle said the current valuation’s median sales ratio is 100%.
Hurdle said if a jurisdiction fails to assess real estate between 90 and 110 percent of its value, the state will withhold all ABC tax funds until the situation is corrected.
Hurdle went on to say that real estate values have increased significantly since the 2020 valuation due to rising house prices. This would be the main determinant of the increase in ratings in the current cycle.
Hurdle said any landlord who questions the valuation of their property has three options. The first is to contact the tax assessor’s office and request a review. The second is to appeal the assessment to the Equalization Board which will meet later in the spring. The third would be to take the matter to court.
County Administrator Mike Mason pointed out that the Board of Supervisors has no jurisdiction over any property valuation. However, the Council may reduce the tax rate.
Although supervisors cannot legally vote on any proposal at this meeting, they agreed by consensus to reduce countywide property taxes by 1.5 cents per $100 of assessment. This will be included in the budget proposal which will be voted on Monday evening.
More good news is that the Commission has agreed to temporarily reduce the tax rate for passenger cars, passenger trucks and motorcycles. The General Assembly granted this authority to localities in this year’s legislative session. County Administrator Mike Mason previously told the Council that the sharp increase in the value of used cars resulting from the pandemic would have triggered much higher property taxes on such vehicles. Mason asked the Board to temporarily reduce the tax rate from $3.72 per $100 of assessment to $2.99, a reduction of 20%. Mason said he doesn’t expect higher prices for these particular vehicles to continue indefinitely.
Finally, Mason said that following Monday’s public hearing where there were questions about the effects of the cigarette tax on retail sales, he received information that the volume cigarette sales in the county greatly exceed initial estimates. He told the board that compiling and verifying all of the information might take some time, but it could eventually result in a fee per carton that is less than the $4 included in the budget. Comments were made that a tax should be instituted that would still make it attractive for customers from Maryland and southern Deleware to travel to Accomack County to purchase cigarettes. Virginia’s cigarette tax is much lower than that of Maryland or Delaware.
Mason said staff would prepare a report analyzing the situation. He said it’s possible a much lower tax per carton could be levied, which would allow the county to still receive the estimated $420,000 in additional revenue per year that is included in the current budget, but at the same time to reduce the $4 per carton currently. propose.
Mason said the budget is in flux due to several factors, including the state budget impasse and news that a federal grant to rebuild 911 communications will save the county from having to borrow more $7 million to fund it. Supervisor Crockett asked Mason what the net result of the proposed $79 million budget would be taking all of this into account. Mason said he estimates, with projected savings, the final budget will be around $71 million.
The $71 million budget now shows a surplus of $230,000. Mason called for consensus that the surplus be placed in the Contingency Fund to help fund fuel increases and other expenses the county will face during times of economic uncertainty. The Council accepted.
The Board of Supervisors will meet again on April 11 at 5 p.m. at Metompkin Elementary School for final discussions and a vote on this year’s budget.